Dementia has already reached the point of being one of the leading causes of death. Now we know that it is not something that strikes a person suddenly, rather it tends to develop over the years. Even though there is no known cure, there are foods to reverse dementia symptoms and certain foods to avoid if you want to stay sharp and bright till your last breath.
Dementia is a category of brain diseases that cause a gradual decrease in a person's cognitive abilities, such as memory, logical thinking, emotional regulation, visual-spatial recognition, motivation, and language. Alzheimer's is the most common disease in this category, accounting for 50-70 % of the cases.
We are used to think of this neurocognitive disorder as genetically predisposed. However, scientists now argue that our lifestyle, in particular our diet, plays a much more crucial role in this. So what food fights dementia and why?
Best Foods to Fight Dementia and Reduce Memory Loss:
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Dark leafy greens, such as kale, romaine, and spinach, are full of antioxidants, vitamin E and K, lutein, beta carotene, and folate. Scientists recommend to have a big salad with dark greens as the base each day for a healthier brain.
Berries like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, and grapes have immense benefits for the aging brain. Their high antioxidant content helps protect brain cells from damage by harmful free radicals. Berries also change the way brain neurons communicate, preventing inflammation and cell damage.
Beans, lentils, chickpeas and the like, are a great source of protein, antioxidants, fiber, folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium. Vitamins B and choline are especially beneficial in that they boost acetylcholine – a neurotransmitter that's crucial in brain functionality.
4. Nuts and Seeds
Foods for dementia patients to eat definitely include nuts and seeds. Each variety have their own set of nutrients, but essentially they are all best sources of healthy fats, amino acids, and other brain-boosting vitamins and minerals.
Mushrooms are full of antioxidants and minerals, that reduce inflammation in the blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain. They are also a source of vitamin B12, the deficiency of which is linked to a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.
6. Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices are high in antioxidants that fight inflammation and reduce the beta-amyloid plaques that can build up in the brain causing dementia. Enrich your diet with herbs such as cilantro, thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary, basil, dill, and parsley, and spices such as cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, saffron, nutmeg, cardamon, black pepper, ginger, and chili.
7. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are packed with phytonutrients, fiber, protein, vitamins A, B6, and C, minerals such as manganese, potassium, copper, niacin, choline. They have anti-inflammatory effect, boosts immune system, and regulate blood sugar. The purple variety is especially beneficial.
8. Olive Oil and Coconut Oil
Extra virgin olive oil is high in natural antioxidants, called polyphenols. It also contains lots of Vitamin E and K. Cold-pressed coconut oil is critical for a healthier brain, mainly due to the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). They deliver energy directly to brain cells, bypassing glucose metabolism. It is a source of healthy fat and good cholesterol.
Foods that can induce memory loss and increase the risk of dementia:
- Refined sugar
- Refined wheat products
- White rice
- Red meat and poultry
- Processed meats
- Butter and margarine
- Processed cheese
- Other processed foods, that are high in salt, sugar, and saturated fats
- Fried and fast food
- Excessive alcohol